Tiger King: Narcissism, Capitalism, and White Privilege

Joe Exotic pointing his gun at the camera
Image sourced here

Folks are raving about the outrageous docu-series called Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, a story about an unusual group of manipulative, greedy, and peculiar exotic animal obsessed zoo owners who have no regard for human or animal life.

Whether it’s riding on an elephant in North Carolina, stuffing baby tigers into suitcases to get threesomes in Las Vegas, or refusing to transport rescued cats back to the wild, all of these people manipulated exotic animals and people for financial gain.

While many viewers are shocked by the murder-for-hire plot, polygamous relationships, gun totin’ free speech, animal abuse, and mysteriously inherited fortune that unfolds in seven episodes, I am astounded by something far more mind-boggling: The things that white people can get away with in America.

I took it upon myself to prototype these narcissists. Thank me later.

Joe Exotic with subtitles insinuating that he wanted Carole Baskin dead
Image sourced here
  • Made ongoing death threats online and in-person
  • Unapologetically gun/explosive obsessed
  • Used the story of Waco to emphasize the lengths he’d go to protect his zoo
  • Manipulated partners with drugs and gifts and demanded that they not leave the zoo
  • Preyed on released inmates: provided housing with no running water, no working appliances, no air conditioning etc.
  • Verbally abusive to his staff

Joe Exotic was very open about wanting Carole Baskin dead, so there wasn’t much of a surprise when his plot to kill her surfaced.

Aside from this, Joe Exotic was also guilty of animal abuse and maltreatment.

In one episode, Doc Antle said that it costed $10,000 to feed a tiger. When asked the same question, Joe Exotic answered $3,000.

Yikes!

Not only did Joe admit to cutting food costs by feeding the tigers a variety of expired meats from a WalMart truck, he also admitted that his camp of unlicensed employees performed veterinary practices on the tigers.

If that’s not maltreatment, I’m not sure what is.

Which begs the question: How is this any different than, say, Michael Vick’s situation when he hosted dog fighting on his premises? Arguably, it’s even worse because these animals are exotic and endangered, yet, Joe Exotic bred and inadequately cared for 227 tigers for years.

Carole Baskin next to a caged tiger at her big cat sanctuary
Carole Baskin next to a caged tiger at her big cat sanctuary
Image sourced from here
  • Supported by PETA but had no remorse about pictures of mutilated rabbits taken by her volunteers
  • Stalked Joe Exotic to ruin his traveling operation
  • Vehemently pursued Joe’s parents and liquidated their funds, even after Joe lost ownership of his zoo
  • Bred and weened baby tigers off their mothers… and made a video about it
  • Hates profiting off big cats… but has facility that profits off of big cats
  • Inherited husband’s fortune who went missing after he filed a restraining order against her

An interesting criticism for the show is that of Carole Baskin. Supported by PETA and other animal rights groups, Baskin appeared to be in favor of protecting exotic animals against commercial breeding, but her past and present operation said otherwise.

With no intention of transporting the cats back to their natural habitat, Baskin and her husband developed their own big cat zoo that charged people entry fees and functioned entirely on a tiered system of volunteers, which meant they profited off cutting corners for trained staff.

That does not sound like something who loves animals. It sounds like someone who loves money.

This approach of low-balling employees sure sounds a lot like how Doc Antle and Joe Exotic operated their zoos — getting people to do a job for basically free.

To convolute things further, her fortune was inherited from her previous husband who went missing after he filed a restraining order that clearly stated that she had threatened to kill him.

It’s difficult to understand how something like this has been swept under the rug for so long when stories like OJ Simpson’s have been a part of headline news for years.

No, you should never get away with killing your spouse.

But, if someone reported to the police that their spouse threatened to kill them and then they disappeared, it should be pursued seriously, right?

Doc Antle riding his elephant Bubbles holding a chimpanzee
Doc Antle riding his elephant Bubbles holding a chimpanzee
Image sourced from here
  • Severely misappropriates Indian culture
  • Groomed “interns” as young as 17 for polygamous relationships
  • Employed “wives” at his zoo 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for little pay
  • Had wives change their names (i.e. Meredith to “Moksha”) and picked what they wore
  • Allegedly killed baby tigers once they’re too old for petting
  • Named himself Bhagavan which is disputed to mean “lord,” “friend of God,” or “master of the universe” — who fucking knows

It’s tough to differentiate this grooming of seventeen-year-olds and blatant narcissism from someone like R.Kelly.

Probably because they’re not different.

It’s been established that Doc Antle was, indeed, having sex with underage interns, but the only case against him is killing baby tigers.

A photo of Doc Antle and his tribe of women, including Barbara Fisher who spoke openly about his cult on Netflix
A photo of Doc Antle and his tribe of women, including Barbara Fisher who spoke openly about his cult on Netflix
Image sourced from here

Don’t get me wrong, killing baby tigers makes you a piece of shit, but the grooming of underage, often virgin, girls should be taken just as seriously.

Yet, not much has been said other than he has multiple “wives,” and this, is good ol’ white privilege, y’all.

Jeff Lowe and Lauren Lowe holding a big cat on a chain
Jeff Lowe and Lauren Lowe holding a big cat on a chain
Image sourced here
  • Put baby tigers in suitcases to get threesomes
  • Told camera while sitting next to wife, Lauren, that “we’re gonna get Lauren back in the gym [once she has the baby]”
  • Told pregnant wife to get a nanny that’s “enjoyable to look at” — insinuating he planned to have sex with her
  • In 2018, his home was raided in Las Vegas where they found 2 sick cubs and a lemur
  • Still has four viable cases with outstanding warrants
  • Most likely framed Joe

Jeff Lowe’s white privilege is a plain and simple: White men are incarcerated at a lower rate than men of color, particularly, Black men.

He was slapped with a “suspended jail sentence, $2,500 in restitution, and a “stay out of trouble” order” by the Las Vegas Municipal court. Despite his recidivism, maltreatment towards animals, and outstanding warrants, the justice system has allowed this man to run a zoo.

Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, Doc Antle, and Jeff Lowe pictured with big cats
Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, Doc Antle, and Jeff Lowe pictured with big cats
Image sourced here

While Joe Exotic’s zoo was, by far, the shadiest, all of these people have taken advantage of exotic wildlife for the sake of capitalism and violated the law in one way or another.

The fact that these injustices are just now surfacing to the public speaks volumes about what white folks are allowed to get away with.

Carol still hasn’t been investigated for the disappearance of her husband. Jeff Lowe has his own zoo. Doc Antle still has a cult of women.

Hell! It took three informants, multiple testimonies, and murder-for-hire receipts to indict Joe Exotic on something he openly boasted about for years.

Now that’s crazy!

Image sourced here

Online death threats, mysterious disappearances of spouses, stalking, and animal abuse are crimes that are okay for white people to commit but when we discuss stories of people of color who’ve committed the same crimes in principle, the leniencies haven’t been as generous.

Just a thought.

Somewhere in between a rant and a revolution.

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